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COVID-19 updates

In-person guidelines (Dec. 13, 2020, update)

There is nothing Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia takes more seriously than the safety and well-being of our girls, volunteers and staff members. Here are updates about steps we are taking to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and comply with Gov. Ralph Northam’s  executive orders:

Gov. Northam on Dec. 10 announced new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, which is on the rise in Virginia. Girl Scouts promise to help other people at all times, so Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia is adjusting our guidelines for meetings and encouraging Girl Scout volunteers and families to use their best judgment. This guidance covers meetings and activities of troops and service units: At this time, the council strongly recommends that troops and service units meet virtually; most are already choosing the virtual approach. For GSCV troops and service units that choose to meet in person, gatherings of 10 or fewer people are preferred and 25 is the recommended maximum number of people allowed at in-person gatherings. These guidelines take effect Dec. 14 and remain in place until further notice.

General overview
  • The council strongly recommends that troops and service units meet virtually; most are already choosing the virtual approach. For GSCV troops and service units that choose to meet in person, gatherings of 10 or fewer people are preferred and 25 is the recommended maximum number of people allowed at in-person gatherings. These guidelines take effect Dec. 14 and remain in place until further notice.
  • Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia is offering in-person gatherings and allowing troops and service units to meet in person if they choose to do so during Phase 3 of the re-opening process.
  • Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia will resume full, in-person activities only after Virginia has successfully moved out of Phase 3.
  • Virtual meetings are always possible, and the council offers resources and advice to help leaders with virtual meetings. Register for training sessions via COMAR. Also, the Troop Leader Blueprint offers step-by-step guidance.
  • If updates from sources such as the governor’s office, Centers for Disease Control or National Institutes of Health lead to changes in our evaluation of the situation, then GSCV will communicate via our website, help desk, S’more News digital newsletter or social media.
In-person protocols

In-person events and activities sponsored by the council will follow these protocols until further notice:

  • Attendees must fill out the in-person screening form. People who answer yes to any questions on the form should not not attend the event or activity. Contact [email protected] for help with the next steps regarding your registration. 
  • Everyone coming onto council property will be administered a pre-entry temperature check. Anyone who has a temperature higher than 100.4° will not be able to participate and will be asked to leave the property for the safety of other participants.
  • Council staff members and volunteers conducting the activity will also follow the screening form and temperature requirements. 
  • Everyone on council property will be required to wear masks or facial coverings during all indoor and outdoor activities.
  • During events and activities, we will practice social distancing and participate outdoors when possible.
  • Girls will not share supplies. Each girl will receive her own supplies to use. 
  • We have implemented enhanced cleaning protocols, and there are numerous hand-sanitizing stations around the property.
  • Girl Scouts should bring their own water. There will not be communal water stations.
Troop travel

Starting Nov. 1, 2020, Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia will begin reviewing and approving requests by troops for limited day trips and travel outside normal meeting locations. Requests for overnight travel and activities will not be reviewed or approved until Virginia has successfully passed out of Phase 3 of the re-opening process. 

Day trips

  • These guidelines work in conjunction with our Safety Activity Checkpoints.
  • Attending in-person meetings or events is an individual decision that families must make for their girls.
  • The Troop Travel and High-Risk Activity Form should be submitted for any activity happening away from your normal meeting location. (Exception: This does not include activities happening on council-owned property.) The Troop Travel and High-Risk Activity Form should be turned in at least four weeks before the activity.
  • All participants should follow Virginia’s social distancing guidelines for Phase 3. These include at least six feet of space between people. Additionally, everyone should wear face masks, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Carpooling is not permitted at this time. Parents must drop off and pick up their own girls from in-person meetings or activities because maintaining six feet of space between people inside a car is not possible.
  • If your troop decides to take a day trip or participate in an activity away from your normal meeting place, then you are encouraged to plan outdoor activities over indoor activities. 
  • Call ahead to the facility or vendor to confirm they are following CDC and state health department guidelines.
  • If activity or sporting equipment is being provided, ask the provider if they wipe down equipment in between uses, similar to wipedowns in between uses for equipment at the gym. 
  • Make whatever appropriate accommodations are necessary. For example, bring extra sanitizer or disinfectant wipes if none will be provided for public use at the activity location.
  • Troops that hold in-person meetings are advised not to provide food or drinks. If the event is a family gathering, then each family should provide their own food and drinks. Do not share with others outside of your family.

Overnight stays

The council will not consider requests for troop overnight travel until Virginia has successfully passed out of Phase 3 of the re-opening process.

Council office and shop
  • Remaining available by phone and email, council staff members began working from home in mid-March to do our part to combat the spread of coronavirus. We continue to follow Gov. Northam’s executive orders and health guidelines as we responsibly return to the office during Phase 3 of Virginia’s re-opening.
  • Starting Sept. 8, staff members returned to the office on a staggered schedule: half reporting to the office Mondays and Wednesdays, half reporting Tuesdays and Thursdays and everyone working from home on Fridays. This will continue through the end of the year.
  • On days that staff members are not in the office, they work from home and are available by phone and email.
  • For now, the council office must remain closed to everyone except our staff members. Our help desk continues to be open and available via [email protected] and 804-746-0590, ext. 316.
  • Our shop is available online and provides free shipping on all purchases. The shop can be contacted at 804-746-0590, ext. 343, or [email protected]
  • Our brick-and-mortar retail shop is beginning to re-open and now offers curbside pickup for prepaid, contact-free transactions.
  • Also, customers may shop by appointment during regular retail shop hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Call 804-746-0590, ext. 343, in advance to make an appointment.
  • Time slots of 15 minutes will be scheduled on the hour and half-hour for a maximum party size of two people.
  • In-shop customers must wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands/use hand sanitizer when entering and exiting, sign in to the retail shop log and pay with a credit card.
Helpful documents
If your troop decides to meet in person (overview)
  • The council strongly recommends that troops and service units meet virtually; most are already choosing the virtual approach. For GSCV troops and service units that choose to meet in person, gatherings of 10 or fewer people are preferred and 25 is the recommended maximum number of people allowed at in-person gatherings. These guidelines take effect Dec. 14 and remain in place until further notice.
  • Troops and service units within Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia may meet in person during Phase 3 if they choose to do so. 
  • Virtual meetings are always possible, and the council offers resources and advice to help leaders with virtual meetings. Register for training sessions via COMAR.
  • Attending in-person meetings or events is an individual decision that families must make for their girls.
  • If in-person meetings take place, troops and service units should follow Virginia’s social distancing guidelines for Phase 3. These include at least six feet of space between people. Additionally, everyone should wear face masks, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Carpooling is not permitted at this time. Parents must drop off and pick up their own girls from in-person meetings or activities because maintaining six feet of space between people inside a car is not possible.
  • If your troop decides to meet in person, then meeting outdoors is preferred over meeting indoors.
  • It is vital that troops have cleaning supplies available to clean areas before and after any in-person meetings.
  • Troops that hold in-person meetings are advised not to provide food or drinks. If the event is a family gathering, then each family should provide their own food and drinks. Do not share with others outside of your family.
  • Troops can make reservations for meetings at Pamunkey Ridge Girl Scout Camp by emailing [email protected]. A limited number of days and times are available for groups no larger than 25 people (including girls, volunteers and family members); groups of 10 or fewer are preferred. Additional information about Pamunkey Ridge is available below.
Here are additional guidelines for troops that decide to hold in-person meetings:
Pamunkey Ridge
  • Pamunkey Ridge Girl Scout Camp is available on a limited basis for troops that choose to meet in person.
  • Troops can make reservations for Pamunkey Ridge by emailing [email protected]. A limited number of days and times are available for groups for groups no larger than 25 people (including girls, volunteers and family members); groups of 10 or fewer are preferred.
  • To complete your registration, please send [email protected] a complete roster of all members/guests who will be in attendance. Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia will purchase additional insurance to cover non-members and will provide your group with a list of self-guided activities available on camp property.
  • Only one group will be allowed on property at a time.
  • Gatherings will be scheduled for a maximum of two hours.
  • All members of the group are required to wear masks or facial coverings.
  • Groups can use the bathrooms and outdoor spaces, including fire circles and pavilions.
  • To build a fire, troop leader must have appropriate outdoor training.
  • Specific program activities, areas and equipment are not available. This includes the dining hall, dance studio, archery and canoeing.
  • Shared food items are not permitted. Girls/adults/families should provide their own food packed and brought from home.
Families
  • Attending in-person meetings or events is an individual decision that families must make for their girls.
  • Parents should ensure their child does not have a fever or feel ill before coming to the in-person meeting.
  • Troop members who are ill, living with someone who is ill or showing symptoms or in a high-risk category should not participate in in-person meetings at this time.
Meeting space
  • Meeting outdoors is preferred over meeting indoors.
  • Get advance permission from the owner of the location.
  • Schools or churches may not permit outside groups on premises, so always check and confirm ahead of time.
  • For meetings at public facilities, ask the facility in advance:
  1. Is the space cleaned and are touch surfaces (tabletops, light switches, chairs, etc.) sanitized at least daily?
  2. Who else uses the space (how often, what size is the group)? Is the space cleaned between groups?
  3. What type of faucets and soap dispensers are available in the restroom (sensory or manual)?
  4. Does the facility follow CDC and state health department guidelines?
  • Meetings may not be held in fitness centers or gyms, where a greater risk for contracting the virus may exist.
  • GSUSA strongly recommends no meetings in private homes out of concern that there would be greater risk of exposure.
Face masks
  • Everyone should wear a mask.
  • Girls can bring their own masks. Have disposable masks on hand for those who need them.
  • Volunteers should remind girls that Girl Scouts wear face masks not only to protect themselves but also to protect others. Face masks are a civic responsibility and a sign of caring for the community.
  • Volunteers can teach girls how to handle their face coverings so that the coverings are effective.
Transportation

Carpooling is not permitted at this time. Parents must drop off and pick up their own girls from in-person meetings or activities because maintaining six feet of space between people inside a car is not possible.

Food and drinks
  • Do not drink from water fountains. Girls and volunteers should each bring their own bottles of water.
  • Troops that hold in-person meetings are advised not to provide food or drinks. If the event is a family gathering, then each family should provide their own food and drinks. Do not share with others outside of your family.
Contact at in-person meetings
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of space between people, and everyone should wear a mask.
  • Have hand washing/sanitizing supplies available. Have everyone sanitize hands upon arrival, throughout (at least every 30 minutes) and just before leaving.
  • Hugs, handshakes, high-fives and even activities like the friendship circle or squeeze can transmit COVID-19 from person to person. Refrain from these gestures for the time being.
  • Games and activities will need to be chosen to ensure physical contact does not happen.
  • Minimize the use of shared materials such as markers, scissors, etc. by having each girl provide her own box of items. This box can be carried to and from the meeting by the individual girl. If collected and stored in one location, each box should be wiped off with sanitizing wipe before being stored.
  • If there are shared items, sanitize each item after each person uses the item.
First aid supplies
  • Troop first aid supplies should include COVID-19 prevention items including hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol), tissues, disposable face masks and disinfectants.
  • Trash baskets or bags should be supplied for meeting and activity spaces, if not already available. Make sure that the trash baskets or bags are easily accessible for girls.
Disinfecting
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched (tabletops, markers, scissors, etc.).
  • Use a household cleaner or see the EPA’s list of effective cleaners approved for use against COVID-19. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
Reporting and communicating a positive COVID-19 test
  • In the event of a positive test result or contact with someone who has tested positive, do not contact the parents or troop members.
  • Promptly contact a GSCV staff member in this situation. A council staff member (not volunteers) will be responsible for taking the next steps to correctly handle the situation.
 
Message from CEO Molly T. Fuller: We are here for you

Like many of you, I’m working remotely and find the change energizing and intense and perhaps the first opportunity in a while to slow down and reflect. I will quickly acknowledge that I do not have the additional consideration of children at home, so reflection may happen with more ease! I feel a great sense of pride when I think about the 108-year history of Girl Scouts, what was happening in the world and how Girl Scouts responded. We have risen to the occasion more than once — because we're Girl Scouts.

In this period of uncertainty and new challenges, please know that each of you has my personal respect and appreciation as well as that of our entire staff. You are incredible community leaders and deserve all of the acclaim possible for keeping focused on the needs and interests of girls, your family and so many other things. With the current varied demands, we recognize Girl Scouts may not be the top priority for some and yet for others it may be a source of comfort and familiarity in ever-changing times. In whatever space Girl Scout families find themselves, we are here to support you. 

We want your Girl Scout experience to be a source of fun, energy and meaningful interactions — even when we can't get together in person. Our council is finding our way in real time through the logistics of how to best support you, your girls and, hopefully, your family through programming events and activities and everything else that Girl Scouts offers our members. Our goal is to be responsive and find the best approach for the common good.

We are here for you. Please take care of yourself (easier said than done), have moments of lightness and perhaps a joyful Girl Scout moment. When we’re able to get together again, we look forward to celebrating Girl Scout sisterhood in person.

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Molly

Refunds

My activity was canceled. Will my fee be refunded?
Yes. When events and activities are canceled, registration fees are refunded. If you paid by credit card, then the fee will be refunded to the card. If you paid by check, then a check will be issued to the person who made the payment. We process refunds as quickly as possible.

Will future events and activities be canceled?
Possibly. We continue to monitor the information from the governor’s office and the Centers for Disease Control and will make decisions about future events.

If we registered for an event and I am not comfortable with my Girl Scout attending, then can I cancel and get a refund?
We are happy to discuss concerns on a case-by-case basis. Please contact our help desk at [email protected] with your details.

Highest Awards

Will the Highest Awards deadline be extended?
Yes. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending the deadline for our Highest Awards:

GSUSA has extended the deadline for highest awards to Dec. 31, 2020. This is particularly relevant for fifth-grade Juniors, eighth-grade Cadettes and 12th-grade Ambassadors who will officially bridge to the next Girl Scout level on Sept. 30. Ordinarily, that would mean they would no longer be eligible to earn the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, but these are extraordinary times.

Please contact our help desk at [email protected] if you have questions.